Joe Wilson of North Charleston wears a gold medallion around his neck that says, “Joe Wilson, gospel singer.”
So he seemed like a good man to ask about the pounding rhythm and repetitive, almost guttural vocals of the Swanee Quintet, which had the crowd swaying on the lawn of Riverfront Park Sunday afternoon.
Clad in apricot blazers and black slacks, the group from Augusta, Ga., was getting down at Project L.O.V.E.’s 19th annual Gospel Fest.
“That’s what you call ‘doing the drive,’ ” said Wilson, a member of Greater Joy Tabernacle. “You gotta be willing to sweat and work out to do the drive.”
The drive is a hallmark of black gospel music, but it’s influenced all kinds of music.
“Music brings together all different colors,” Wilson said.
The headliners Sunday were Martha Munizzi of Orlando, Fla., a Grammy nominee and the first non-African American to win a Stellar award; and Joshua Rogers, a Greeleyville native who won “Sunday Best,” BET’s reality singing competition.
More than 3,000 people filled the park Sunday afternoon, enjoying perfect weather, music, food vendors and inflatable kids’ attractions.
The goal was to bring families together, according to Creola Washington, who founded the festival in 1994.
“This is the time to celebrate the strengthening of the family, on Resurrection Day,” she said, referring to Easter. “It’s a time where families can interact with each other, other parents can interact with other parents, children can interact with other children.”
DiAngelo Brown of North Charleston was watching his 4-year-old son enjoy one of the jump castles.
“We just came out here for my son to have a little fun,” he said.
That’s what it’s all about, bringing families together, Washington said.
“We look at how the family unit has diminished in so many ways,” she said. “To have a strong family in this day and time, in this generation, is a jewel, something to cherish. Strong families make strong communities.”
Besides organizing the annual festival, Project L.O.V.E. organizes family choirs and holds workshops in schools.
Shona Chandler of Summerville and her 4-year-old daughter were looking forward to the fireworks at dusk.
“It’s just for the family fun,” Chandler said. “It’s nice for all the families to come out.”
Lakesha Brown of North Charleston was standing on the lawn listening to music with her children, Jasmine Hornsby, a fifth-grader at Goodwin Elementary School, and Eric Brown, 13, an eighth-grader at Jerry Zucker Middle School.
“Families don’t do this enough,” she said. “This is the kind of thing you wish would come more often.”
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.